Finally. The mainstream press has finally picked this one up. May it lead to the closing of every exhibition in the US.
Tonight at 10 pm, 20/20 is airing a segment about their three month investigation into the source of the bodies used in the Bodies exhibition. Due to public demand,—morbid curiosity?—the Gotham exhibition has been on extended view for nearly three years at South Street Seaport.
Bodies is not a typical museum show. There is no jury judging works for their artistic, cultural, historic, or scientific merit and significance. It is simply a successful money making franchise with seventeen shows around the world, and with three more slated to open this year. The company producing the shows simply acquire dead bodies plasticized for permanent preservation and display. And every body in the Gotham show was purchased in China. These bodies do not come with papers verifying the person—of sound mind and body—granted their permission to be used for this purpose. Though the company assures the public all bodies were acquired legitimately.
I chose to boycott this show since before its arrival in Gotham. Back then I heard the bodies used are executed prisoners from China. Whether from folks Upstate in hippyhadesville, in conversation with colleagues, or read about in gossip rags made no difference to me. China has been and remains the country with the highest number of government sanctioned executions. According to Human Rights Watch, China executes seven thousand five hundred of its’ citizens each year, and provides no details whatsoever to the international community. Moreover, China is failing miserably to honor their promise to fix a laundry list of human rights violations before the summer Olympics.
The company owning the exhibitions, justifies and promotes their shows as “the opportunity to peer inside yourself, to better understand how your elaborate and fascinating body works, and how you can become a more informed participant in your own health care.” I am not opposed to learning the inner workings of the human body. Indeed, I’ve sadly had opportunity to see my share. But with the human rights implications at issue here, this show is not the medium to become proactive about ones health and wellness. Indeed, I’ve happily had opportunity to eat and live my share.
I will refrain from taking this to thesis length. But I ask, when will the creative, fashion, and food communities cease to do business with China? As food, art, and fashion are my big three disciplines, and ecology, animal, and human rights the big three domains Daily Prandium is thinking and writing, these matter to me. In general, what will it take for folks to become critical and thinking consumers? And a warning to the next retail sales associate who justifies “Made in China” on top designer labels because “The labor is cheap.” Just don’t say it.